Raise a Glass to a Lost Hero

Toast local fallen Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus with a beer brewed in his honor that also gives back, courtesy photo.

Toast local fallen Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus with a beer brewed in his honor that also gives back, courtesy photo.

Tarantula Hill Brewing Co. (togothillbc.com) in Thousand Oaks created its 4S3 beer to honor Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed in the line of duty during the 2018 mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill. Brewing the blonde ale was a collaboration between the Tarantula Hill team, first responders, Helus’ wife, Karen, and son, Jordan, and other involved families, says CEO Ali Zia.

Everything about the beer, including its name, which is expressed as “four Sam three,” Helus’ radio call sign, and the ingredients, Victory malt and Warrior and Noble Saaz hops, was collaborative, says brewmaster Mike Richmond. And at least one Helus family member has helped to create the brew each time a batch is made. Jordan was even involved in designing the can, which includes the messages “where our heart lies” and “never forget.”

The special brew is available at the brewery and local liquor stores and by order for shipment. A portion of the proceeds from every 4S3 beer sold is donated to local causes.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

New Foodie Finds

805 Living September 2020, New Foodie Finds, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, New Foodie Finds, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Recently introduced by Goleta Red Distillery (goletared.com), La Patera Lemon Flavored Vodka is made from 100 percent cane sugar and flavored with organic local lemons. Owner Michael Craig, a history buff, points to the citrus fruit’s longstanding presence in the area.

“The Stowe family were pioneers, some of the first people to grow lemons commercially in California,” says Craig, “and their property [Rancho La Patera and the Stow House, circa 1873, now stewarded by Goleta Valley Historical Society] is literally a mile from the distillery.”

Mony’s (monyssb.com), a buzzy Funk Zone taqueria where there are often long lines out the door, is now making its burritos available at other locations, too. Look for them in Santa Barbara under the Mamacita’s brand at the Santa Barbara Roasting Company cafe, and the Dart Coffee Co. shop, where co- owner Erika Carter says, “We sell out every day.”

“We wanted to offer consumers a made-fresh-daily breakfast option that was as accessible as their must-have morning coffees,” says Carlos Diaz, who runs the catering end of the family business. “Culturally, the name Mamacita can be translated into ‘little mama,’ which in this case is an endearing way to honor my mother and the creator of Mony’s, Mama Mony.”

When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like a bowl of pasta. Michael Glazer of Santa Barbara’s Mission Rose Pasta Company (missionrosepasta.com) has been making fresh, handmade noodles in various restaurants and pop-ups since 1998. Now he and his wife, Val, have made their first packaged goods available with about eight rotating pasta products as well as creams, butters, and sauces.

Join the pasta club, which offers pasta plus a sauce-of-the-week delivery, or order individual products as an add-on to CSA deliveries from Local Harvest Delivery, The Farm Box Collective, and Plow-to-Porch Organics.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

A Taste of Paso

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living September 2020, A Taste of Paso, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

A new 16,000-square-foot, mixed-use complex, Paso Market Walk (pasomarketwalk.com), continues the foodiecentric development of downtown Paso Robles. “Paso Robles was ready for a public market housing various food purveyors to provide another destination for visitors,” says developer and proprietor Debby Mann.

Some of the merchants included are Gather Urban Agriculture nursery, Montello Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar Tasting Room, Hog Canyon Brewing Company, Just Baked Cake Studio & Bakery, and a host of restaurants. At Finca, the owners of Napa’s La Taquiza serve their traditional Mexican fare, while Momotaro Ramen showcases the popular Japanese noodles. Third Degree Grill dishes up American comfort food with flair. Paso Robles Wine Merchant, a wine shop, bar, and kitchen, turns out menu specials like grilled cheese, fresh oysters, and locally made organic pasta dishes. And coming in late fall, In Bloom will offer fresh California cuisine from a pedigreed restaurant team with operations in Chicago and Southern California.

Book a stay at one of six rooms and suites on-site at The Lofts to immerse yourself in this epicurean marketplace.

805 Living, September 2020.

805 Living, September 2020.

This story was originally published in the September 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Cheers to Connecting

805 Living Summer 2020, Cheers to Connecting, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

805 Living Summer 2020, Cheers to Connecting, story by Leslie Dinaberg.

Treat friends to a drink, even if you’re not there to raise a glass with them. It’s easy via the Get Your Drink On (GYDO; gydo.me) app, which works with U.S. wineries and breweries that accept Apple Pay or Google Pay.

“In the 805 area alone, we have almost 200 participating wineries and breweries, [so] friends can buy friends a drink at their favorite spot,” says Ryan Williams, cofounder of the Carpinteria-based company.

The app was conceived, Williams says, to help the beverage companies increase their sales and expand their user base. “However,” he says, “as GYDO began to take shape, the focus became more on the actual experience of the GYDO user and how they felt when buying or receiving a drink.”

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

805 Living Summer 2020, cover art by John Galan.

This story was originally published in the summer 2020 issue of 805 Living. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

 

Premier Party Planner’s Home Entertaining Tips

From Santa Barbara Independent, May 14-21, 2020. Photo by Megan Sorel Photography.

Dishing With Merryl Brown, Event Designer Extraordinaire

While wow-worthy fundraising events may be in our rearview mirror for a while, anyone who’s ever attended the Pacific Pride Foundation’s Royal Ball, the Community Environmental Council’s Green Gala, or the Bellosguardo Foundation’s inaugural Great Gatsby–themed soirée knows what a thoughtful, creative touch that Merryl Brown and her team bring to every event.

While we’re all so eager to have our friends and family once again able to join us in our humble abodes, here is some entertaining advice from the expert.

How do you plan a small house party? I sit and I think about who is coming and who I want to be there and who will interact well with whom. Then I think about the flow of the party and what it’s going to feel like.

It starts with the invitation: What’s it going to tell you? How are you supposed to dress? Is it going to be a dinner? Are you going to get cocktails and hors d’oeuvres? You want to convey the theme and really give a sense of the party — without giving too much away.

Make sure everything is spotless in your home, that the bathrooms have a candle lit and that everything is clean and tidy. Make lots of space on your counter if you’re having a caterer. I’m a big believer in that it’s really hard for people to cook, make food, and be able to entertain their guests simultaneously.

If you want to cook, then have some extra help in the house. You can always enlist people who can take some of the burden off of you, so you aren’t stressed. That’s probably the single most important thing: The host or hostess really leads the mood. If a person is really stressed out when they’re entertaining, I think it really kills the mood of the party.

And when the party starts? It’s important to have a bar that people can get to right away and get their drinks. I think it’s really fun to have a couple of fun, interesting drinks and create a drink menu that you can put on your bar. Get interesting glassware and have interesting things that you can put in the drinks: edible flowers and interesting ice cubes where you invent something inside of them, glowing straws, or metal straws. There’s all different kinds of things that you can use to make your drinks look and feel great — and it becomes a point of conversation. You want to make sure to give that to people, particularly people that don’t know each other.

You can also have a person with a tray passing drinks if you have a bigger party, to take pressure off the bar. My favorite way to entertain is to traypass hors d’oeuvres and keep everything really neat and tidy (so people aren’t sharing germs). If you go online, there’s a million different recipes.

If you are limited in your budget, you can have custom cocktail napkins done very reasonably. Have some little quote or some funny little saying, or some sort of image. I did a memorial one time, and there were lyrics from a song that the person loved on the napkin, and it was meaningful.

What if I don’t have a bar? You can create a bar. You can take a six-foot table and put a linen on it; you can get some PVC and you can cut four pieces exactly the same size, and you raise that table up a little bit so that the front bar’s a little higher; you put another six-foot table behind it. And then you display your bottles; you display your artifacts; you make some cool things. Everybody should have a hot-glue gun — what you can do with a hot-glue gun is a beautiful thing. You can find fun stuff [Michaels, Art From Scrap, and Art Essentials are her go-to places] and make cool things that are in the theme of the party.

You have to get creative and have fun with it, and don’t be so nervous that it’s not going to be good enough. When you make an effort and you have fun with it and are not all nervous and stressed about it, people are psyched. They just want to have a nice time and they want to have a new experience and they want to be a part of something meaningful.

I think people really want to connect. The more that you give people things to connect about, to talk about, the more fun people are going to have.

What about the tablescapes? I try to layer things. For example, if you’re setting the table, it’s not just about the china and the linens and the glassware and the flatware and the floral. Those things are part of it, but there has to be something more, those little lovely surprises that make things pop. Have the beautiful calligraphed menu tucked into the napkin and this beautiful flower, and then they lift the napkin up and there’s a lovely little fortune or some little surprise, some little special poem or whatever it is.

What’s your most critical piece of advice? The single most important thing when you do an event is just to do it with love, infuse it with love.

I can’t wait to go to your coronavirus containment party. I want to throw that party. You’re going to have to come with your own hand-painted mask and your own gloves that you created yourself. We’ll all carry a six-foot scepter pointed out, so that everybody is six feet away from you, and then it’s a dance party in a great big space where everybody is far apart. And there’s no buffet at all; everybody gets their own individual food when they walk in the door.

See you there!

See merrylbrownevents.com.

Stay at Home and Garden, special issue of SB Independent May 14, 2020.

This story was originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 14, 2020. Click here to read it as it appeared in print.

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington

Sip Trip: Tri-Cities, Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

Explore the Heart of Washington Wine Country

A sojourn to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Pasco, Richland and West Richland) is an excellent way to savor the heart of Washington Wine Country and experience a winning combination of sun, water and wine. Whether you want to tour wine country, play outdoors, feast on the local culinary bounty or enjoy a wide variety of cultural pursuits, the Tri-Cities has it all!

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start in Benton City with Washington’s hottest AVA, Red Mountain. Encompassing about 4,000 acres of vineyards, Red Mountain provides grapes to over 175 wineries throughout the Pacific Northwest, consistently earning critical acclaim. With 11 on-mountain wineries and tasting rooms to choose from, you’ll enjoy meeting with vintners during this hands-on experience. For an even more intimate exploration of the Red Mountain Trails, ride from winery to winery on horseback or take a horse-drawn  wagon ride. Redmountainava.com | redmountaintrails.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Get outside and breathe some fresh air along the sparkling Columbia River. There are fun, outdoor recreation activities for everyone, with stand up paddle board yoga, bike rentals, kayaking and more available. greenielife.comnorthwestpaddleboarding.com

11 a.m. Visit Columbia Gardens Wine and Artisan Village in historic downtown Kennewick for an urban tasting experience at their boutique tasting rooms and wine production facilities.

12:30 p.m. Choose from one of the three charming wineries on Tulip Lane in Richland —J. Bookwalter, Barnard Griffin and Tagaris — for cuisine that’s expertly paired with their wines. bookwalterwines.combarnardgriffin.com | tagariswines.com

3:30 p.m. Indulge in a bit more tasting, with a number of excellent wineries to choose from in Richland and Kennewick, including Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard & Winery, Longship Cellars, Badger Mountain Vineyard & Powers Winery, Kitzke Cellars, Farmhand Winery and Market Vineyards. gooseridge.com | longshipcellars.combadgermtnvineyard.comkitzkecellars.com | farmhandwinery.commarketvineyards.com

6 p.m. Revel in a stunning sunset and a gourmet dinner, as well as all of the luxuries of a 96-foot yacht, on a Water2Wine Cruise along the Columbia River. water2winecruises.com

DAY 3

10 a.m. Enjoy the short drive from the urban Tri-Cities to the small, agricultural community of Prosser. Often recognized as the “Birthplace of Washington Wine,” Prosser has a variety of wineries to visit at the Prosser Wine & Food Park. Vintner’s Village has over 12 wineries, as well as the Winemaker’s Loft, a winery incubator that houses a half-dozen wineries and tasting rooms. gotastewine.com/prosservintners-village.php

2 p.m. Don’t miss the Walter Clore Wine and Culinary Center. Named after Washington wine pioneer Dr. Walter Clore, the Clore Center is a unique wine tasting and education destination that showcases Washington wine’s quality and diversity by offering an in-depth taste of each wine region. theclorecenter.org

There are always loads of special events going on in the Tri-Cities, with entertainment for all ages and interests. May’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is a true cultural experience with traditional music, amazing Mexican cuisine, horse dancing and more. June’s Cool Desert Nights takes car-lovers throughout the Tri-Cities. Every July brings the three-day Tri-City Water Follies boat racing tournament. Labor Day weekend is the Tumbleweed Music Festival, with more than 100 talented performers participating in three days of amazing concerts and events, many of which are free. Check out visittri-cities.com/events to stay up-to-date on all of the local happenings.

VisitTri-Cities.com

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Leavenworth, Washington

Sip Trip: Leavenworth. Washington, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

A Slice of Germany in the Pacific Northwest

The charming Bavarian village of Leavenworth (leavenworth.org) is an exciting hub for enjoying culinary experiences, art and adventure. The wine is as wow-worthy as the region itself, with more than 25 wineries and tasting rooms pouring award-winning wines and ciders. Just two hours east of Seattle, Leavenworth is an ideal destination to uncork two days full of fun activities.

DAY 1

9 a.m. Wake up in the beautiful Bavarian Lodge, which offers all of the amenities of a sumptuous city hotel with the character of a small country inn. The Turret suites have exceptional views of the downtown village and mountains. bavarianlodge.com

10 a.m. After a well-rounded breakfast (included at your hotel), grab your gear and head to the Ski Hill trails, which are perfect for biking and hiking. Take a deep breath and treat your lungs to the wonderfully clean fresh mountain air. After a good workout, reward yourself with a cold beer on the deck of the historic Ski Hill Lodge, one of the last facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1936. The views and vibe are well worth it. skileavenworth.com

1 p.m. Grab a bite in town at Pavz Cafe Bistro; with their handmade crepes (both sweet and savory) it is the perfect spot. Smile at the colorful alpine style buildings while you stroll and visit unique shops. The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum is worth a stop — they have the largest collection of nutcrackers in the U.S. pavzcafebistro.comnutcrackermuseum.com

3 p.m. There are over two dozen tasting rooms in and around town, with lots of opportunities to try out local favorites, like a glass of refreshing White Riesling at Icicle Ridge Winery, WooHoo Winery tasting room’s Berry Sangria, or the Montage Red Blend at Eagle Creek Winery’s tasting room in town, d’Vinery. icicleridgewinery.com | woohoowinery.com | eaglecreekwinery.com

7 p.m. Sit outside at Blewett Brewing Company and enjoy one of their small-batch craft beers on tap and handcrafted artisan pizzas like Sister Kathy (with braised crimini mushrooms) or the zesty barbecued Sweet Daddy. blewettbrew.com

9 p.m. End a positively great day with some live music and dancing at Bushel and Bee Taproom, featuring a rotating lineup of 12 ciders and 12 beers on tap, or the family-friendly Leavenworth Cider House, which, in addition to great local and regional ciders, offers cidermaker dinners and cider education courses. bushelandbee.com | leavenworthcider.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Brighten your morning with a trip to the Tumwater Bakery & Pizza, and fuel up for the day with their avocado toast on freshly baked artisan bread or a variety of their pastries, like the jam scones, pumpkin cream cheese muffins and almond croissants made fresh daily. tumwaterbakery.com

10 a.m. Time to hit the river. The Wenatchee River runs right through town and boasts some of the best river rafting in the Pacific Northwest, so book a trip with a local company and get into some foam-eating fun!

6 p.m. You’ll be looking for some good food after a day on the water, and the folks at Yodelin Broth Company have got you covered. Their bone broth soups, healthy power salads and gourmet burgers taste even better on their outdoor patio overlooking the beautiful Enchantments. yodelinrestaurantgroup.com

8 p.m. Take in a play at the Leavenworth Summer Theater. Their signature show, “The Sound of Music,” is outdoors, in the mountains and under the stars. The hills are truly alive! leavenworthsummertheater.org

10 p.m. Before you retire for the night, stop by the charming Pika Provisions cocktail bar for a nightcap. pikaprovisions.com

Keep an eye on the calendar for even more special happenings. There’s something to celebrate in downtown Leavenworth all year long. leavenworth.org/calendar

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Discoveries: Napa Valley Wine Train

A Taste of Mystery Along the Rail

A nice glass of Napa red enhances just about any experience, including the twists, turns and whodunits you’ll find aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train’s exclusive murder mystery dining experiences. These stunningly preserved antique rail cars have plenty of stories to tell, with a cast of characters fueled by deadly secrets, and plenty of intrigue — in addition to a sumptuously prepared three-course meal!

The 2020 playbill features an intriguing new series of immersive, themed murder mystery experiences on board the dinner train. Thrilling themes such as Crime and Punishment; Death of a Gangster; Dance with Death; Totally 80’s; Midnight at the Masquerade; Wizards and Witches; Now You See It, Now You Don’t; Till Death Do Us Part and The Most Wonderful Crime of the Year take center stage, and guests are encouraged to dress up accordingly for each incredible evening.

This unforgettable, three-hour journey evokes the romance and adventurous spirit of opulent rail travel at the beginning of the 20th century. The Wine Train is also an incredible way to experience the beauty of Napa Valley Wine Country.

The Murder Mystery adventures are not the only way to enjoy a Napa Valley Wine Train journey aboard this elegant train. You can choose from a variety of lunch, dinner, romance, mystery and exclusive private tours — all of which feature fresh, gourmet California cuisine as the lush vineyards of the Napa Valley landscape pass you by. The leisurely pace of the train evokes a more relaxed and reflective era, and allows you to really take in the vineyards and majestic mountain views.

The Napa Valley Wine Train truly is the ride of a lifetime.

For info., visit winetrain.com

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Paso Robles, California

A Wine Lover’s Paradise

California’s fastest-growing wine region, Paso Robles truly is a dream come true for wine lovers. More than 250 wineries dot the countryside amongst Paso Robles’ 40,000 vineyard acres, many of which are small boutique producers. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Central Coast, midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this exceptional locale offers untouched natural beauty, farm-fresh cuisine, 250+ wineries, a historic downtown surrounded by specialty shopping, wine tasting and dining, a wide selection of accommodations, golf, entertainment and a vibrant arts scene.

DAY 1

10 a.m. Start your day on the East Side of Paso Robles with a visit to one of the wineries that helped put Paso on the map, Eberle Winery. Gary Eberle was a pioneer and one of the first to plant Syrah in California, and later helped make Cabernet Sauvignon so popular in the area — his first Eberle label wine was the 1979 Cabernet Sauvignon. eberlewinery.com

Then pay a visit to Glunz Family Winery & Cellars, a fourth generation winemaking family who recently opened their winery in Paso after sourcing grapes there for many years. glunzfamilywinery.com

1 p.m. Visit DAOU Vineyards & Winery for an amazing culinary experience that’s a perfect pairing of wine, cuisine and limitless views on the crown of DAOU Mountain, as well as a tribute to the Lebanese culinary heritage of the Daou family. daouvineyards.com

3 p.m. Vina Robles Vineyards & Winery never disappoints — also visit the Vina Robles Amphitheater and check out their concert lineup. They’ve hosted everybody from Willie Nelson to Tony Bennett, and the Beach Boys and Barenaked Ladies are already on deck for 2020. vinarobles.com

5:30 p.m. Head downtown for a beautiful evening around the historic Downtown City Park. Several amazing restaurants surround the park — La Cosecha Bar + Restaurant, Thomas Hill Organics and the new French favorite, Les Petites Canailles. lacosechabr.com | thomashillorganics.com | lpcrestaurant.com

10 p.m. When you’re ready to call it a night, accommodations around the park include the classic (tried and true) Paso Robles Inn. Also nearby, Hotel Cheval is a small luxury inn and a few miles east is the lovely Allegretto Vineyard Resort. hotelcheval.com | pasoroblesinn.comallegrettovineyardresort.com

DAY 2

9 a.m. Grab a strong coffee at Spearhead Coffee and hit the road. Start your wine tasting adventures with Grey Wolf & Barton Family Wines — try their amazing white wines and unique Paso blends. Then head on to one of the many smaller, family-owned wineries like Clos Solène, owned by French couple Guillaume and Solène Fabre; or reach out to Ledge Vineyards for a private tasting — it’s owned by local musician and friend to all Mark Adams, and they make beautiful Rhônes and blends. spearheadcoffee.com | bartonfamilywines.com | clossolene.comledgevineyards.com

1 p.m. Opolo Vineyards has great wood-fired pizzas on their patio, along with lovely wines. Sip and savor as you enjoy the views of their walnut orchard and over 70 acres of vines. Also on-site are handcrafted spirits by Willow Creek Distillery. opolo.com

2:30 p.m. Stop by Thacher Winery and Vineyard, a boutique operation that specializes in dry farming on the historic, 52-acre Kentucky Ranch. Make an appointment at Denner Vineyards to visit their Comus Crush tasting room, where the exterior windows have vineyard views and the interior windows provide a peek into what’s happening on the winery fermentation floor. thacherwinery.comdennervineyards.com

4:30 p.m. Don’t miss the chance to visit Tablas Creek, which specializes in Rhône-style wine and is the realization of the combined efforts of two of the international wine community’s leading families: the Perrin family, proprietors of Château de Beaucastel, and the Haas family of Vineyard Brands. tablascreek.com

7 p.m. Dine on rustic Italian fare at the romantic and intimate Il Cortile, a local favorite with one of the best wine lists in the area. ilcortileristorante.com

9 p.m. Wrap up your evening at the new boutique hotel property, The Piccolo. Their Tetto rooftop bar is the first in the area and serves Paso-centric wine and craft cocktails, a perfect way to cap off a magical two days in Paso Robles. thepiccolo.com

There’s so much more to enjoy in Paso Robles, you could easily spend another day tasting, sipping and exploring this exciting wine region. For additional resources and itinerary ideas, visit travelpaso.com and pasowine.com.

 

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital

Sip Trip: Rogue Valley

Sip Trip: Rogue Valley, originally published in Touring & Tasting, spring/summer 2020.

A Global Wine Destination With Bucolic Charm

The natural beauty of Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley wine country and its four wine trails — Upper Rogue, Bear Creek, Applegate and Jacksonville — are just a part of what makes this area a top global wine destination.

DAY 1: ASHLAND

9 a.m. Begin your morning at Ashland’s Lithia Springs Resort (7), where you can immerse yourself in four acres of lush, English-inspired gardens. Relax with a natural mineral water soak in the privacy of your bungalow, followed by a delicious hot breakfast buffet. lithiaspringsresort.com

11 a.m. Explore the hills along the back roads of the Bear Creek Wine Trail. Set on 40 beautiful acres, with views of nearby Grizzly Peak and Mount Ashland, Grizzly Peak Winery is a haven from the busy world. The tasting room showcases 12–15 distinct wines. grizzlypeakwinery.com

Weisinger Family Winery (6) is committed to producing limited-production wines created exclusively from local vineyards. Sip the signature Gewürztraminer (along with other varietals), which John Weisinger first planted with the help of his three young children in 1978. weisingers.com

2:30 p.m. A cultivated tasting under the oak tree at Irvine & Roberts Vineyards (3) (5) is a lovely way to relax and have a knowledgeable wine ambassador craft an intimate tasting experience, paired with artisanal cheeses and house-made delicacies. irvinerobertsvineyards.com

4 p.m. Take a stroll in downtown Ashland. Right off the plaza is Lithia Park, which celebrated its centennial anniversary in 2019. This charming gem was designed by John McClaren, who also designed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

6 p.m. You’re in for a treat at Larks Home Kitchen Cuisine, an authentic farm-to-table experience that celebrates Oregon’s bounty with dishes that excite and surprise with freshness and flavors. Located in downtown’s Ashland Springs Hotel, it also has a second location at Inn at the Commons in Medford. larksashland.com

7 p.m. Grab a drink at the Wine Garden at Lithia Springs Resort, which features an excellent selection of Southern Oregon wines, particularly those from the Applegate Valley.

8 p.m. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is a must-see. This legendary company has been entertaining theatergoers since 1935, and offers up to 11 different shows each year — both Shakespeare and a mix of classics, musicals and world premieres — from March through October. osfashland.org

DAY 2: MEDFORD/APPLEGATE

10 a.m. Just 15 minutes north of Ashland is Medford, the heart of the Rogue Valley, with easy access to Interstate 5 and Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport. Home of the world-famous Harry & David Country Village, it offers entertaining and educational tours daily. Start your day in downtown Medford and experience farm-to-fork culinary culture with breakfast at Over Easy or brunch at the popular Downtown Market. downtownmarketco.comovereasysouthernoregon.com

Medford is home to more than half a dozen wineries, including 2Hawk Vineyard & Winery (1), whose tasting room pays tribute to the grand agricultural buildings of yesteryear, exuding rustic charm on the site of the original farmhouse dating back to the 1950s. Also in Medford is DANCIN Vineyards (2), a culinary and viticulture destination of beauty, taste, style, authentic hospitality and award-winning Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. This estate winery has seven unique seating areas to enjoy while you drink and dine. 2hawk.wine | dancin.com

Next, it’s on to the Jacksonville Wine Trail to taste the small lot wines of Quady North, where the focus is on vineyard-select Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Syrah wines that are expressions of the climate, soils and people who farm them. quadynorth.com

Don’t miss Rellik Winery’s newly remodeled tasting room in Jacksonville. Sip a glass of their Three-Eyed Raven Red Blend and enjoy a scenic view of the pond as well as the 15 adorable alpacas and the llama that reside on the property! rellikwinery.com

12:30 p.m. Make your way to the Applegate Wine Trail, where forested hillsides surround a valley that is fertile and temperate, hosting numerous fields of fragrant lavender, alongside 19 unique wineries producing a diverse array of high-quality wines. A working ranch since 1858, Plaisance Ranch’s unique tasting room is located in the milk refrigeration room of the former dairy barn. Plaisance is French for “pleasure” and it’s indeed a delight to taste their wines in this warm and cozy atmosphere. plaisanceranch.com

2:30 p.m. Wisconsin isn’t the only “cheesehead” state. Rogue River Blue cheese, made by Rogue Creamery, was named the best cheese in the world at the 2019 World Cheese Awards in Italy. Stop by the Central Point Artisan Corridor to see the cheese production room and factory and try the solar-powered grilled cheese sandwiches, as well as plenty of artisan cheese, chocolate and charcuterie samples. roguecreamery.com

3:30 p.m. On your way to see the amazing Crater Lake National Park (4), meander through the Upper Rogue Wine Trails to enjoy the unique experience of four different wineries, four different families, and four different interpretations of the grape along with beautiful countryside. upperroguewinetrail.com

7:30 p.m. Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, get a taste of Old Town Oregon history at Porters in downtown Medford, a classic American dining experience in a historic 1910 landmark train depot. porterstrainstation.com

During the summer months, the Britt Music & Art Festival is another great addition to the cultural calendar. This naturally formed amphitheater, surrounded by majestic trees on a beautiful hillside estate, sets the stage for world-class artists in classical music, jazz, blues, folk, bluegrass, world, pop and country music. brittfest.org

10:30 p.m. Feeling thirsty after the show? Common Block Brewery is a convivial, family-friendly taproom that serves 30+ beers, wines and ciders on tap, as well as a full menu of casual brew pub fare. commonblockbrewing.com

Rest your weary bones at Inn at the Commons. This reimagined 1960s motor inn is conveniently located in downtown Medford’s vibrant corridor, with numerous shops, cafes, restaurants and theatres within a short walk. innatthecommons.com

With so much to taste, sip and do, there’s plenty more if you decide to stay another night to explore more of Southern Oregon’s hospitality that makes the Rogue Valley a unique wine destination.

For additional resources, visit travelmedford.org, travelashland.com and southernoregon.org.

Originally published in the spring/summer 2020 issue of Touring & Tasting. Click here to read this story and more! TT-SP20.digital